HAUBSTADT, IN – As if you needed any more indication that, for all intents and purposes, Kyle Cummins practically owns Tri-State Speedway, the Princeton, Ind. driver was there to cement that fact in round four of Indiana Midget Week on Sunday night.
Cummins shot to the lead early, lost it, gained it back, then stood his ground in warding off constant pressure from reigning series champion Chris Windom down the stretch to earn his first career USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature at his “home track.”
“To have Chris there behind me, that’s pretty nerve wracking because he’s pretty good in a midget,” Cummins admitted. “I just didn’t know what to do, but I felt like if I was going to win one, this would probably be the place to do it.”
Cummins’ prowess in a sprint car at the southwestern Indiana quarter-mile dirt oval has been well-established with numerous victories, and he recently collected his all-time leading sixth career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory at Tri-State in April of this year. He reiterated that fact by snaring the Midwest Sprint Car Series feature just moments before hopping in the midget for Sunday’s 30-lap main event.
Entering Sunday as one of the prime suspects to earn a first career USAC National Midget feature win, Cummins earned a career-best 3rd place finish with the series at Tri-State in 2019, then equaled that performance with another 3rd in 2020.
Progressing and finding comfort in the seat of a midget are paramount to setting the stage for a breakthrough victory, and Cummins has certainly done that over the past couple seasons, but admittedly shared that, in a way, they’re still flying by the seat of their pants trying to figure out the science of midget racing.
The process paid off at Tri-State in just his 17th career series start, becoming the second “first-time” USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature winner of the 2021 season, along with Emerson Axsom, taking his Ohsweken Speedway – Lucas Oil Center/Spike/Stanton SR-11x to its first USAC win for Ontario, Canada car owner Glenn Styres.
“Glenn Styres, I owe it all to him,” Cummins said. “He’s put the trust in me. We’ve only got 20 midget races under our belt, and we have no idea what we’re doing. Throughout Indiana Midget Week, we’ve been getting better and better every night.”
Cummins got to the front in a flash from his inside row two starting position, racing to the lead by overtaking an all Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports front row consisting of Daison Pursley and Buddy Kofoid. Pursley fought back to regain the lead briefly on the second lap before Cummins reemerged in front with a turn three slider on the third lap.
The first stoppage of the night occurred on the seventh lap when 16th running Ethan Mitchell clipped an infield tire and flipped heavily in turn four. The Mooresville, N.C. racer escaped without injury.
On the lap seven restart, sixth-starting Windom began to surge, moving from 5th to 3rd in one fell swoop, then slotted into second on lap nine after getting past Pursley for the position. In Windom’s pursuit of Cummins, the pair broke away from the rest of the field just as lapped traffic began to loom.
However, on the 20th lap, with Cummins and Windom on the cusp of fighting traffic, 21st running Kaylee Bryson clipped the turn four curb directly in front of the leaders. Simultaneously, Windom was in the process of passing for the lead, getting by Cummins just as the yellow flag flew.
Windom, thus, relinquished the position back to Cummins, but the frontrunners were plucked straight out of traffic, which completely altered the dynamic of the remainder of the race.
“The red came out at the perfectly wrong time,” Windom recalled. “I had just slid by him and kind of showed him where I was at, and he took away my line there and didn’t make any mistakes.”
Shortly after the restart, on lap 21, New Zealand’s Hayden Williams, running 13th, hooked an infield tire, causing a mechanical issue that instantly turned his car sharp right and straight into the path of 16th place Brenham Crouch who T-boned Williams, causing Williams to flip over. Crouch restarted and finished 15th, but it was no dice for Williams who was forced to exit with damage and a 21st place result.
The ensuing restart saw Cummins get relatively freed up and now the main focus turned to the joust for second, with Pursley now finding a second wind and driving around the outside of Windom to move into the runner-up spot for laps 21 and 22 before Windom catapulted himself back in front of Pursley on the 23rd circuit.
For the majority throughout, Cummins took a low entry into turns one and three and made a sweeping exit through the middle of turns two and four, preventing his challengers from making a banzai maneuver getting into the turns on each end of the track. A party of five swarmed Cummins, led by Windom two car lengths back along with the sudden emergence of Thomas Meseraull, Pursley, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Jason McDougal as well.
“I love just blowing it in there and throwing a slider,” Cummins explained. “I was better around the top, and once it got slick, I knew, because of the last couple years I’ve been here, if you get in front of them, it’s really hard to pass somebody in a midget. I think it’s due to the experience from that and getting the car right, I guess.”
None of the “swarm” was able to make much headway on Cummins who executed to perfection and became the 12th different driver to win a feature in each of Tri-State Speedway’s previous 12 USAC National Midget events since the first one held in 1969, won by two-time USAC National Midget champ, Mike McGreevy.
Cummins’ 0.570 second margin under the checkered flag came ahead of Windom, Thomas Meseraull, Daison Pursley and Kevin Thomas Jr.
Windom (Canton, Ill.) set the tone early in the evening, breaking the late, great Bryan Clauson’s 2010 one-lap USAC National Midget track record of 13.629 at Tri-State, establishing his own blistering mark of 13.377 in the CB Industries/NOS Energy Drink – PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
Furthermore, Chris Windom moved into the Indiana Midget Week point lead by virtue of his runner-up performance and now possesses a 13-point lead over former leader, Buddy Kofoid, who dropped to second. Despite owning the IMW point lead through consistency with four races completed and four remaining, Windom is fatigued by having to stand by and watch someone else enjoy the spoils of victory following his second 2nd performance in the past three nights of IMW.
“I’m sick of running second,” Windom said point blank. “I felt like we had the best car there for most of the race. I had to try something there at the end to try and drive around the outside and it about cost me second. Sucks to be as fast as were and come home second. Wasn’t much we could do there, just keep plugging away and go after the midget week title.
Thomas Meseraull’s long-awaited first career USAC National Midget win came at Tri-State in October of 2020. While a win wasn’t quite in the cards for the San Jose, Calif. racer on Sunday night, a solid third-place result was in order following a heavy crash during the opening laps of Saturday’s feature at Lawrenceburg. Sunday, nonetheless, contained a sense of relief and redemption for the driver known as T-Mez.
“It’s the perfect place to come after you’ve banged your head,” Meseraull noted. “This place is always smooth, always kind of greasy, just hammer down and go. If the thing’s doing wheelies, you’ve got a good car, but we weren’t really doing wheelies. We were pretty good, though. I didn’t feel 100 percent today, but I gave it 110.”
Starting 9th, Meseraull was shuffled back to mid-pack by lap five, but dug in and steadily worked his way back into the forefront by race’s end aboard his RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Response Management Services – Engler Machine/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“We were so good in the beginning,” Meseraull said. “I got to racing with (Logan) Seavey and he kind of shut the door on me. I locked the brakes up and stalled the thing. It got started again, but I fell back to about 13th. This RMS Racing 7x is bad fast everywhere we go as long as I can keep it on all fours.”
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 6, 2021 – Tri-State Speedway – Haubstadt, Indiana – 17th Indiana Midget Week – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Chris Windom, 89, CBI-13.377 (New Track Record); 2. Logan Seavey, 25, Malloy-13.405; 3. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac-13.691; 4. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Styres-13.706; 5. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.722; 6. Bryant Wiedeman, 01, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.730; 7. Daison Pursley, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.771; 8. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5, Petry-13.772; 9. Corey Day, 47BC, Clauson Marshall-13.775; 10. Emerson Axsom, 15, Petry-13.789; 11. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-13.807; 12. Tanner Thorson, 19T, Reinbold/Underwood-13.899; 13. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-13.932; 14. Trey Gropp, 00, MSW-13.984; 15. Jason McDougal, 4, Dalby-13.985; 16. Kendall Ruble, 11, Martin-14.026; 17. Chance Crum, 26, Rudeen-14.055; 18. Hayden Williams, 1NZ, BSL-14.064; 19. Cole Bodine, 39BC, Clauson Marshall-14.113; 20. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-14.114; 21. Justin Grant, 2J, RMS-14.125; 22. Stephen Schnapf, 11s, Martin-14.150; 23. Travis Buckley, 7NZ, BLS-14.350; 24. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-14.380; 25. Brian Carber, 19, Hayward-14.382; 26. Blake Brannon, 40, Brannon-14.631; 27. Aiden Purdue, 57D, McCreery-14.723.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Daison Pursley, 4. Kyle Cummins, 5. Emerson Axsom, 6. Stephen Schnapf, 7. Brian Carber, 8. Cole Bodine, 9. Kendall Ruble. 2:21.269
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Trey Gropp, 4. Ethan Mitchell, 5. Buddy Kofoid, 6. Chance Crum, 7. Brenham Crouch, 8. Blake Brannon, 9. Travis Buckley. NT
INDY METAL FINISHING / INDY RACE PARTS THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Jason McDougal, 3. Corey Day, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Cannon McIntosh, 6. Bryant Wiedeman, 7. Hayden Williams, 8. Kaylee Bryson, 9. Aiden Purdue. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-7 transfer to the feature) 1. Hayden Williams, 2. Stephen Schnapf, 3. Brenham Crouch, 4. Bryant Wiedeman, 5. Cole Bodine, 6. Kaylee Bryson, 7. Brian Carber, 8. Travis Buckley, 9. Chance Crum, 10. Aiden Purdue, 11. Blake Brannon. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Cummins (3), 2. Chris Windom (6), 3. Thomas Meseraull (9), 4. Daison Pursley (1), 5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (7), 6. Jason McDougal (15), 7. Cannon McIntosh (4), 8. Justin Grant (19), 9. Tanner Thorson (8), 10. Buddy Kofoid (2), 11. Corey Day (11), 12. Emerson Axsom (12), 13. Logan Seavey (5), 14. Cole Bodine (17), 15. Brenham Crouch (18), 16. Bryant Wiedeman (10), 17. Brian Carber (22), 18. Kaylee Bryson (21), 19. Trey Gropp (14), 20. Stephen Schnapf (20), 21. Hayden Williams (16), 22. Ethan Mitchell (13). NT
**Ethan Mitchell flipped on lap 7 of the feature. Hayden Williams flipped on lap 20 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Kyle Cummins, Lap 2 Daison Pursley, Laps 3-30 Kyle Cummins.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-706, 2-Chris Windom-699, 3-Justin Grant-657, 4-Thomas Meseraull-612, 5-Tanner Thorson-599, 6-Emerson Axsom-567, 7-Daison Pursley-558, 8-Logan Seavey-552, 9-Cannon McIntosh-533, 10-Jason McDougal-489.
INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-283, 2-Buddy Kofoid-270, 3-Logan Seavey-256, 4-Justin Grant-247, 5-Daison Pursley-243, 6-Thomas Meseraull-220, 7-Cannon McIntosh-218, 8-Kevin Thomas Jr.-202, 9-Emerson Axsom-189, 10-Jason McDougal-185.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Thomas Meseraull-71, 2-Tanner Thorson-63, 3-Robert Ballou-60, 4-Brady Bacon-44, 5-Chris Windom-43, 6-Justin Grant-41, 7-Kevin Thomas Jr.-37, 8-Buddy Kofoid-33, 9-Brian Carber-30, 10-Kyle Cummins-26.
INDIANA MIDGET WEEK PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Thomas Meseraull-27, 2-Emerson Axsom-24, 3-Brian Carber-24, 4-Justin Grant-17, 5-Kaylee Bryson-17, 6-Chris Windom-16, 7-Kevin Thomas Jr.-16, 8-Jason McDougal-16, 9-Tanner Thorson-16, 10-Hayden Williams-16.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 9, 2021 – Circle City Raceway – Indianapolis, Indiana – 17th Indiana Midget Week – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
GSP Driving Performance of the Night: Daison Pursley
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Chris Windom
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Thomas Meseraull
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Kevin Thomas Jr.
Indy Metal Finishing / Indy Race Parts Third Heat Winner: Tanner Thorson
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Hayden Williams
KSE Racing Products / Irvin King Hard Charger: Justin Grant (19th to 8th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Logan Seavey
ProSource Hard Work Award: Brian Carber
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Travis Buckley